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Police investigate three ATM explosions in US

16 January 2020

Police are investigating a string of ATM explosions in Tampa, Florida after three blasts occurred in the past two months. Only one of the blasts resulted in money being stolen, however the circumstances of all three were similar to those seen in recent months in the UK and the Netherlands.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

The first two explosions occurred on November 4 at a BB&T branch in Pinellas Country and on December 22 at a Pilot Bank branch in Hillsborough County. No money was taken in either incident. The third incident, where an undisclosed amount of money was taken, happened on January 12 at a Regions Bank. ATMs can hold up to $200,000 at any given time.

All three incidents are thought to be connected after a male suspect was seen spray-painting security cameras at all three locations before each blast occurred. Local police have identified the type of explosive used in the explosions, however they have not made that information public. 

The suspects are thought to have attempted to break into ATMs previously, after ATMs were tampered with at a Chase Bank and Regions Bank in Hillsborough County in July and September 2019.   

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the explosions along with local police.

Using explosives to break into ATMs is becoming an increasingly common method following similar incidents in the UK and the Netherlands. In December, the Dutch Banking Association (NVB) said that the majority of outdoor ATMs would be out of service every night between 11pm and 7am in an effort to deter criminals using explosives to break into them. In 2019, there were a reported 71 such attacks compared to 43 in 2018.

Elsewhere, in November, five men in the UK were jailed for a total of more than 45 years after a series of ATM burglaries across north-west England. The men stole just under £500,000 between March 2018 and February 2019 from 15 cash machines in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Wales.

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